The trial of a League City man accused in the 2016 beating death of his 6-year-old stepdaughter began Monday, as prosecutors and defense attorneys laid out their opening arguments to a Galveston County jury.

Evan David Nolan, 28, is accused of beating 6-year-old Whitney Williams to death in 2016 while he was watching the girl in the family’s apartment.

A Galveston County grand jury in 2016 indicted Nolan after viewing evidence from the homicide. Whitney Williams died from severe injuries, including brain trauma, a lacerated liver and internal bleeding.

“The effects of the injury would have been almost immediate,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Adam Poole said. “We’re dealing with a small window of time for the injuries to go unnoticed. And I will show you that the defendant was the only one with her during that window.”

Nolan’s attorney on Monday painted him as a kind man who was wrongly accused of the crime.

“I just ask that you do what police could not and keep an open mind,” attorney Abigail Anastasio said. “By the conclusion of this trial, I promise you will know the rest of the story.”

The defense used its opening statements to paint Nolan’s wife as abusive toward Williams and arguing she lied several times after the child’s death.

A League City police officer driving to work the evening of Aug. 17, 2016, spotted a motorist driving recklessly and stopped the vehicle in the 1500 block of East Main Street. Whitney Williams’ mother, Brithony Williams, got out of the vehicle carrying her unconscious daughter, police said.

Emergency medical personnel took the girl to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, and later to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where she died the next day.

Brithony Williams initially told detectives a baby sitter had been watching her children, but she could not provide police with a phone number for the caretaker, according to the affidavits.

The mother told police the baby sitter had called her at work to tell her Whitney suffered a seizure and hit her head, according to the affidavits.

When detectives questioned Brithony Williams about text messages between her and Nolan indicating he was watching the girl, she told investigators Nolan had been watching her daughters at the couple’s League City apartment, according to the affidavits.

“It is my belief the defense will use those lies to shift the blame to her,” Poole said. “But the medical evidence shows that is impossible.”

Brithony Williams was at work during the day, Poole said.

“The medical evidence is just not conclusive,” Anastasio said. “No one can rule out that she might have caused the injuries before going to work that day.”

Brithony Williams had a history of abuse, while Nolan didn’t, Anastasio said.

League City police and U.S. Marshals arrested Nolan after a traffic stop the day after officers encountered the girl, police said.

Nolan is facing a capital murder charge. If convicted, he would be eligible for the death penalty.

The trial is expected to last through the week, Poole said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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